Should Christians Drink Alcoholic Wine?
By Clyde J. Haney
What is the meaning of I Timothy 5:23, “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake, and thine often infirmities”? Another asked, Does Deuteronomy 14:26 give license to use wine or strong drink, as long as moderation is observed?
I am submitting the best answer I could possibly give, written by Brother Clyde J. Haney, President of Western Apostolic Bible College.
“It is quite evident that the statement, ‘thine often infirmities,’ and thy ‘stomach’s sake’ imply that Timothy had an infirmity that was associated with a stomach condition. This being true, it would be absurd to think Paul would advise putting fermented wine into his weak stomach. Anyone would agree who has experienced such a reaction. Those who haven’t should take a trip down skidrow, and as he weaves his way through the winos, he will be convinced.
“There are eleven different words in Hebrew used for wine. Some refer to grape juice fresh from the cluster, and some to fermented wine. Scholars of the Scripture point out that there are two stages of the fruit of the vine referred to as wine-fermented and unfermented. Some believe that a third reference is to wines refined to the extent that the alcoholic element is removed, and that the distinction was made between new and old wine for this reason. The church at Pentecost was accused of being drunk on NEW WINE (Acts 2:13). Jesus spoke of not putting new wine into old bottles (Matthew 9:17). New wine in its fermented stage would break the old bottles.
“Fresh grape juice was also designated as wine. ‘Thus saith the LORD, as the new wine is found in the cluster. . .’ (Isaiah 65:8). ‘I have caused wine to fall from the winepresses’ (Jeremiah 48:33). The cluster and the winepress do not produce fermented wine. Fermented wine that creates drunkenness is the product of men’s tampering with juice from the cluster, until it becomes fermented. The Bible warns us not to look on the wine when it moveth itself, for, at the last it biteth like a serpent and stingeth like an adder (Proverbs 23:31, 32).
“Imagine Paul’s telling Timothy to take some of this for his weak stomach! ‘Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise’ (Proverbs 20:1). This doesn’t sound advisable for Timothy.
“Wine in the Scripture does sometimes refer to the juice fresh from the cluster when first pressed from grapes, and since we know it is a very nourishing drink, it would be much more reasonable to believe Paul bad reference to this as being helpful to Timothy’s condition.
“There is another interest involved that is far more important than any argument over what Timothy drank, and that is the testimony of the believers life. Any Christian who partakes of intoxicating drink of any kind will have lost his testimony when such is revealed. Sometime ago a Pentecostal preacher was criticized to me because he was supposedly drinking a little wine for his stomach’s sake. Paul clears that argument by stating that if meat caused his brother to be offended, he would eat no meat as long as the world stood.
“Eating meat in our day would perhaps offend few, but most people would be offended by a Christian’s using fermented wine or strong drink. May God help us to live with a conscience void of offense.” The foregoing also applies to Deuteronomy 14:26 for indulging in strong drink, according to the Scriptures, is deceiving and dangerous.